Here’s a gelato shop in my neighborhood, Poggio Ameno.
No one knows where the hell Poggio Ameno is.
It is NOT, as commonly believed, on Mars.
No. It is near another neighborhood which is *slightly* more well-known, called La Montagnola.
If you don’t know where either of those are, then all I can say is that it’s before EUR, on the 30 Express line, just past the ex-Fiera di Roma, across from Garbatella.
And if you still don’t know where it is, then I cannot be of further assistance.
In any case, I Mannari merits a visit. I’m not kidding. It’s worth the trip.
Since it’s my neighborhood gelato shop, and since, as you can tell from the above description, my neighborhood isn’t exactly Piazza Navona, I’ll be honest with you: I wasn’t expecting much. I wasn’t expecting, for example, Gelato Fantasia or anything. But I was wrong to have had such low expectations.
Very, very wrong.
The shop has recently undergone a facelift, but the real joy is in the delectable flavors and exceptional taste of this gelato.
The owner, Giuseppe, singled me out because I was telling my friend that the fact that this gelateria uses Valrhona chocolate is kind of a big deal. It’s a super fancy chocolate and who would want to spend money on a fancy chocolate when there’s so much cheap chocolate powder out and about? Clearly, someone with a major passion for quality gelato.
Don’t get him started–he won’t let you go. He’s so passionate about his work it’s very contagious–and he’ll keep filling you up with more little tastes! He even gave me a Sicilian briochè that he has brought in fresh daily from Sicily!
The other flavors here are creative and unique as well. There’s the Aztec chocolate which consists of dark chocolate and chili pepper (one of my historical favorites, wherever I can find it in the city.) But there was one flavor I’d never, ever come across in all my gelato-eating in Rome. Dark chocolate, lemon, and black pepper. Sounds disgusting. But is strangely compelling.
Once again, I realize my desperate need for a macro lens and a real digital camera and not my cell phone. Forgive. It’s on its way from someone who keeps forgetting to bring me their old digital camera as a gift.
Giuseppe is like an anti-snob snob. I don’t know exactly what this means, except that, he’s the worst gelato “snob” I’ve ever met in terms of his passion for his work and his exacting standards for very high quality ingredients (organic, hard-to-find gourmet brand names, pistachio di bronte, etc.). And, he is committed to not building his brand or his name through advertising, but sheerly through word of mouth. Which is why he doesn’t advertise and why he tells me he specifically opened his gelato shop here in Poggio Ameno. He doesn’t even live anywhere near this neighborhood. But he told me, after years of working for some of the big-name gelato shops downtown, “if I can make a name for myself from out here, then I know I’m making a superior product.”
I asked him why he doesn’t tell people about the fact that he uses organic lemons, or all the other special touches he uses to make such a great gelato. He says that he specifically doesn’t because “people who know what good gelato tastes like know it when they taste it. I don’t have to tell them.” And in a way, he has a point. Because I can assure you that I was surprised at how much this gelato compared favorably to the best gelato I’ve had in Rome, with nothing else to indicate that to me other than my tastebuds and gelato-tasting experiences over the years. (See Gelato Tour)
Well. My kids don’t know that the lemons are organic or the chocolate is super fancy or the neighborhood they live in isn’t the equivalent of Beverly Hills. But if it can please an SUV-sized stroller and a 4-year old with a major sweet tooth, then I’m happy.
And despite my kiddos’ non-discriminating tastes, I, for one, can say that this gelato ranks on par with any of the places from the historic center that I’ve rated highly. If you’re ever in this area, make sure you don’t miss it.
Gelateria I Mannari on Facebook
Via di Grotta Perfetta 125